Guest column/Join day of non-violence

I remember prosecuting a gun case not long after becoming a federal prosecutor in 2005 and thinking about how, at some point, the individual across the courtroom had decided that violence was the best way to settle a dispute. He illegally used a gun to address a personal problem, just like he had seen so many others around him do throughout his life.

It’s my job, as the chief federal law enforcement official for my district, to help decrease violent crime. We do that, in part, by vigorously prosecuting illegal, habitual gun possession and use to the fullest extent of the law. Removing people who cause violence from our streets makes everyone safer. I believe in that work, and I, along with my assistant United States attorneys, will continue to pursue that work wholeheartedly.

Facing an offender across a courtroom, however, means that we’ve already lost in so many ways.

It means the defendant’s community already has been terrorized by violence. It means the defendant has given up opportunities to thrive and to meet his potential in a productive way. It means families will be split apart as a loved one serves years — possibly the rest of his life — in federal prison.

Making our communities safe requires more than robust enforcement after crimes already have been committed. We must — as law enforcement officials and especially as members of the community — care about preventing and deterring violent crime as much as we care about reacting to it.

That is why I’m asking educators, parents and, most importantly, students all over Southern Ohio to take a stand with me on Wednesday against gun violence.

Wednesday marks the 21st-annual Day of Natonal Concern about Young People and Gun Violence. Since 1996, more than 10 million students have signed a pledge committing to non-violence.

The pledge is pretty straightforward. Never use a gun to settle a dispute. Influence your friends to do the same.

Individual choices and actions, when multiplied by those of young people throughout our state and the nation, will make a difference. Together, by honoring this pledge, more young people can grow up in safety.

I don’t want to face any more young people in the courtroom who, at some point, decided that violence was the best way to handle a dispute and picked up a gun.

(Glassman is the United States attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.)

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